Issue #3(17) 2018 Opinion

Why we should not assume that war in space is ‘inevitable’

James Vaughan
James Vaughan
Steven Freeland Professor of International Law, Western Sydney University, Australia

Outer space is becoming an arena for technological shows of force - whether by deployment of spy satellites or testing of weapons - and though the prospect of war in space is not new, the recent rhetoric from the United States has put it well and truly back on the agenda.

Over recent months there has been increasingly strident talk about the need to consider outer space as a ‘war fighting domain’ after President Donald Trump announced at the beginning of the summer that he had directed the United States Defense Department to create a ‘Space Force’ as the sixth branch of the US military.

The President explained that: “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.’ This follows earlier comments he made in March to the effect that, ‘Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea.”

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